- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

Federal prosecutors yesterday subpoenaed a database tracking grant money distributed by a state crime office headed by Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
The subpoena sent to the Governor's Office on Crime Control Prevention, or GOCCP, seeks records that former staffer Margaret Burns said she compiled to help Mrs. Townsend avoid political pitfalls in her campaign for governor.
Miss Burns said this week that GOCCP Executive Director Stephen Amos and Mrs. Townsend's then-Chief of Staff Alan Fleischmann told her last year to create a "grants reconciliation database."
Mrs. Townsend has focused on crime-fighting in her two terms in office and led GOCCP during much of that time. The office serves as a clearinghouse for state and federal anti-crime grants, handing out $45 million each year.
Miss Burns said her job was to keep track of crime-fighting promises Mrs. Townsend made to communities around the state and whether those pledges were followed up with grant money, legislation or policy changes.
Miss Burns said she was told by Mr. Fleischmann that the database was to anticipate any "political liabilities" Mrs. Townsend could face from unfulfilled promises. Miss Burns' $68,000 annual salary was funded with federal grant money intended for crime-fighting programs, she said.
Mr. Fleischmann has denied instructing Miss Burns to create the database. Mrs. Townsend's campaign spokesman, Len Foxwell, referred all database questions to the GOCCP.
GOCCP spokesman Rob Weinhold also denied that Miss Burns was asked to do politically motivated work, which would have been improper under federal grant guidelines.
"Dr. Amos has said that in no way, shape or form did he instruct her to do any kind of political work and the project she was working on wasn't political," Mr. Weinhold said.
Miss Burns, who this week revealed the existence of the database, said yesterday she would no longer discuss it in light of the federal subpoena.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland has issued several subpoenas in their investigation of the state anti-crime office. A grand jury is looking into how federal grants were distributed by the agency.
Prosecutors also have subpoenaed records of grants to a Prince George's County community group and 21 grants to the University of Maryland.
University officials said GOCCP often gave the school more money than it requested and then instructed the university to hire employees of GOCCP using the additional funds.
A university substance-abuse research center also used some of its grant money to build and maintain a Web site for GOCCP. The site included information touting Mrs. Townsend's accomplishments as head of the crime office.
Mrs. Townsend has called the probe "political garbage" orchestrated by the Republican U.S. Attorney Thomas DiBiagio. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Mrs. Townsend's likely Republican opponent, recommended Mr. DiBiagio's appointment.
Miss Burns was communications director at GOCCP until last spring, when she said Mr. Fleischmann, now Mrs. Townsend's campaign director, asked her to do a "special job" for him.
Her duties were to create a computerized spreadsheet that monitored Mrs. Townsend's appearances across Maryland for GOCCP, Miss Burns said. The database was kept on a computer GOCCP installed at her home.
Miss Burns said Tuesday the spreadsheet was divided into categories, including the date of Mrs. Townsend's appearance, whether the lieutenant governor made any commitment and whether that commitment was eventually fulfilled. It even indicated if the effort was part of Mrs. Townsend's anti-crime initiatives.
Miss Burns eventually left the GOCCP in December 2001, saying she was uncomfortable with the political overtones of her work. She said she put the database on a computer disk and gave it to Mr. Weinhold along with printed copies of her work.
Mr. Weinhold said the office was trying to retrieve the database yesterday in response to the subpoena.

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